housekeeping…don’t put off til tomorrow…

While I’m in the neighborhood of stuff to do with my laptop, the internet, and specifically Word Press, I thought I’d mention a couple of things.

Until just yesterday I’d been having blogging withdrawal, partially owing to the fact that my site, hugmamma’s mind, body, and soul, looked somehow different. I don’t mean what you the reader can see, but what I see while writing my posts. Or rather, what I wasn’t seeing anymore.

Having established in my previous post that I’m an “old dog learning new tricks,” or at least trying, when something, however subtle, changes…I’m flummoxed.

I’ll continue doing what I always do, for some time in fact, all the while feeling like there’s a mosquito buzzing around which I tend not to silence. Too busy. Can’t take the time. Maybe it’ll revert back…on its own.

Perhaps all the faldarall with not being able to download pictures from my camera finally got me thinking about the subtle, but disturbing, difference in the writing of my posts.

I’d asked Word Press Support about my concerns earlier. In fact I inquired a few times. Responses came quickly, always asking me to take some kind of picture so that they’d know exactly what I meant.

You must know me by now. I hadn’t a clue as to what they were asking me to do. So I gave up…and moved on.

What was no longer visible to me were the statistics to do with visitors to my blog, the list of my subscribers, or the pictures offered for my use by Zemanta. While none were essential to my blogging, they definitely enhanced the environment in which I did my writing. Like having “all my ducks in a row” before I started the process.

Some of you may already be smiling, knowing what I’m about to say. And you’re correct if you guessed that I’d not heeded the warning from Word Press to update my search engine status.

Of course I’d asked my husband every time the message blinked across my laptop screen. Since he has no clue about Word Press, he told me to ignore the icon. So like the dutiful wife that I am, I did.

Well, Word Press knew what they were saying.

Yesterday my husband finally agreed to help me upgrade my search engine status after I read another blogger’s comment elsewhere in the Word Press community. I wasn’t the only one having issues.

Logo used from the start of the Chrome project...

Logo used from the start of the Chrome project until March 2011 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Upon the excellent recommendation of that fellow blogger I am now using the Google Chrome internet search engine. As promised, the visuals are far superior to what I’d experienced with EI, Internet Explorer. 

And as the lyrics  to the song go…I can see clearly now… 

The end result of all this being…I can once again view the statistics of visitors to hugmamma’s mind, body, and soul, as well as Zemanta’s pictorial offerings, and best of all…the subscribers for whom I am deeply grateful. I thought I’d never again know who you are.

Too many to list…

…heartfelt thanks…to each and every one of you…

………hugmamma.  (The only thing I still have to figure out is how to do “smiley faces” again. Any suggestions?)

google…stung!!! (Part 1 of 2)

Google 的貼牌冰箱(Google refrigerator)

Image by Aray Chen via Flickr

Hot on the heels of my previous post about Internet Goliath Google, is a sister story from today’s Wall Street Journal. Learning that it got caught in a web of its own lies was too good an opportunity to let slip.

Con Artist Starred in Sting That Cost Google Millions
by Thomas Catan 
    
Wearing leg irons and guarded by federal agents, David Whitaker posed as an agent for online drug dealers in dozens of recorded phone calls and email exchanges with Google sales executives, spending $200,000 in government money for ads selling narcotics, steroids and other controlled substances.
     Over four months in 2009, Mr. Whitaker, a federal prisoner and convicted con artist, was the lead actor in a government sting targeting Google Inc. that yielded one of the largest business forfeitures in U.S. history.
     “There was a part of me that felt bad,” Mr. Whitaker wrote in his account of the undercover operation viewed by The Wall Street Journal. “I had grown to like these people.” But, he said, “I took ease in knowing they…knew it was wrong.”
     The government built its criminal case against Google using money, aliases and fake companies–tactics often used against drug cartels and other crime syndicates, according to interviews and court documents. Google agreed to pay a $500 million forfeiture last summer in a settlement to avoid prosecution for aiding illegal online pharmaceutical sales.
     Google acknowledged in the settlement that it had improperly and knowingly assisted online pharmacy advertisers allegedly based in Canada to run advertisements for illicit pharmacy sales targeting U.S. customers.
     “We banned the advertising of prescription drugs in the U.S. by Canadian pharmacies some time ago,” the company said in its sole comment on the matter. “However, it’s obvious with hindsight that we shouldn’t have allowed these ads on Google in the first place.”
     The half-billion dollar forfeiture, although historically large, was small change for google, which holds $45 billion in cash. But the company’s acceptance of responsibility opened the door to potential liability for taking ads from other people involved in unlawful acts online, such as distributing pirate movies or perpetrating online fraud.
     Google has long argued it wasn’t responsible for the actions of its more than one million advertisers. But the forfeiture paid by Google represented not just the money it made from the ads, but also the revenue collected by illegal pharmacies through Google-related sales.
     In an important shift, the settlement “signals that, where evidence can be developed that a search engine knowingly and actively assisted advertisers to promote improper conduct, the search engine can be held accountable as an accomplice,” according to Peter Neronha, the lead prosecutor.
     Unknown is whether the company will toss aside advertisers as a result. “If Google were to adopt a much more restrictive definition of problematic advertisements, everyone would immediately notice a drop in their revenue,” said Eric Goldman, director of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University.
     The government’s case also contained potentially embarrassing allegations that top Google executives, including co-founder Larry Page, were told about legal problems with the drug ads.
     Mr. Page, now google’s chief executive, knew about the illicit conduct, said Mr. Neronha, the U.S. attorney for Rhode Island who led the multiagency federal task force that conducted the sting. “We simply know from the documents we reviewed and witnesses we interviewed that Larry Page knew what was going on,” he said in an interview after the August settlement.
     Mr. Neronha declined to detail the evidence, which was presented in secret to a federal grand jury. Other people familiar with the case said internal emails showed Sheryl Sandberg, a former top Google executive who left in 2008 for Facebook Inc., had raised concerns about the ads.
     Prosecutors could have used that evidence to argue Google deliberately turned a blind eye to lawbreaking to protect a profit stream estimated by the government in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
     Ms. Sandberg declined to comment through a spokesman. Mr. Page also declined to comment.
     Google says it has strict policies in place to prevent criminals from using its ad services and it bans advertisers who repeatedly violate its guidelines.
     “We ban not just ads but also advertisers who abuse our platform, and we work closely with law enforcement and other government authorities to take action against bad actors,” said Kent Walker, Google’s general counsel.
     Mr. Whitaker’s story, told here for the first time, presents a different picture. Shuffling into federal court in handcuffs and beige overalls last month, the 37-year-old prisoner looked like he could pass for an employee of a Silicon Valley start-up. …

Now let’s mosey along to part 2…to see how the sting…went down…

………hugmamma.  😉 

 

     

tiptoeing…through the internet…

Hover!

Image via Wikipedia

I lead a double life as I’m sure most of us do these days. We’re on the internet doing our thing, whatever that might be. Meanwhile the gods hover overhead controlling the maze in which we find ourselves. We’re mice looking for that tasty morsel, that “feel-good moment,” which momentarily quiets our brain in its perpetual hunt for satisfaction.

facebook engancha

Image via Wikipedia

Addicted to social networking is putting it mildly. We’re as committed to the internet as we are to the automobile and foreign gas. Yes, there are those who have managed to side-step both life altering inventions, but they are decidedly in the minority. But I would venture to guess that they too are affected, just as non-smokers are by second-hand smoke.

The Human Body -- Cancer

Image by n0cturbulous via Flickr

According to Webster, “Cancer…1. a malignant growth or tumor that tends to spread. 2. any evil that spreads destructively. …” I liken the pervasive invasion of Google and Facebook into our privacy like a cancer that can only have dire consequences. And just as a victim of the dreaded disease is never certain of his prognosis, so too we users of the internet might be viewed as lambs led to slaughter. When and where we meet with our destruction is yet to be seen.

Image representing YouTube as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

You can draw your own conclusions from the following Wall Street Journal article in today’s paper.

Google Widens Its Tracks
by Julia Angwin

     In a move that could make it harder for Google users to remain anonymous, Google Inc. said it would start combining nearly all the information it has on its users.
     This could mean, for instance, that when users search via Google, the company will use their activities on sister sites like Gmail and YouTube to influence those users’ search results. Google hasn’t done that before.
     Google’s move–which was disclosed in a privacy policy that will take effect on March 1–is a sign of the fierce competition between Google and Facebook Inc. over personal data. Facebook has amassed an unprecedented amount of data about the lives of its more than 800 million members–information that is coveted by advertisers.
     Google traditionally hasn’t had the same amount of personal data about its users, and has kept much of its personal data separate.
     But as Facebook gears up for its planned initial public offering this year, Google has amped up the competition.
     Last year, Google launched its own social network, called Google+ in members’ search results. Google’s latest move would allow the company to include insights from services such as Gmail and YouTube to search results as well.
     This could effectively rewrite the relationship between users and the world’s most-popular search engine.
     Google has long treated users’ search queries as sacrosanct–in part because they can contain very personal sensitive information–about topics such as health and finances.
     In June, at The Wall Street Journal’s All Things Digital conference, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said, “Google will remain a place where you can do anonymous searches. We’re very committed to having you have control over the information we have about you. So, for example, if you want to continue to use Google and don’t log in, and don’t tell us who you are, that will continue to be true forever.”
     Mr. Schmidt’s statement would remain true for people who aren’t logged into a Gmail, Google+, YouTube, Android phone or an other Google account. But as Google’s services become more ubiquitous and deeply linked, it could become more difficult for users to take Google up on that promise of anonymity.
     “Google now watches consumers practically everywhere they go on the Web–and in real life, when using a mobile phone,” said Christopher Soghoian, an independent privacy and security researcher in Washington D.C. “No single entity should be trusted with this much sensitive data.”
     Google said that it isn’t collecting any new information, just combining it to provide better service to customers. For example, the company said that it could alert a user that he is going to be late to a meeting based on Google’s analysis of the user’s location, calendar and analysis of traffic on the road to the meeting.
     “We’ll treat you as a single user across all our products, which will mean a simpler, more intuitive Google experience,” Alma Whitten, Google’s director of privacy, product and engineering, wrote on the company’s blog.
     Google added that it would continue its policy of not combining user’s personal information with data about their Web browsing collected by its DoubleClick advertising network.
     The company last year signed a privacy agreement with the Federal Trade Commission. The settlement requires Google to ask users for permission before changing some of its privacy settings and requires the company to submit to privacy audits for 20 years.
     This month, the company launched an advertising campaign touting its commitment to privacy.
     Google until recently refrained from aggressively exploiting its own data about internet users to show them online ads tailored to their interests, fearing a backlash. But the rapid emergence of rivals such as Facebook has caused it to change its policy over time.
     In 2009 Google for the first time started collecting a new type of data about the websites people visit, and using it to track and show them ads across the Internet.
     Last June, the company launched Google+, which was intended to rival Facebook, Twitter Inc. and other social-media companies whose users have willingly provided information about themselves.
     With Tuesday’s changes, Google is “setting the stage for one-upping” Facebook in terms of being able to better target online ads to website visitors based on what it knows about their interests, said Brian Kennish, a former Google programmer who runs Disconnect Inc., a firm that offers software to block Google and other companies that collect information about Web users.
(–Amir Efrati contributed to this article)

Makes me think of former New York Governor, Elliott Spitzer. He trolled the internet seeking sexual favors from women on online sites. I’m sure it’s safe to assume there are millions of men who do the same. What they do in the privacy of their own homes is their business…or is it? Not anymore it seems. Google is now the all knowing eye. Will it give up its information for money? To buy political favors? To get the Feds off its back? Who knows?

Profile shown on Facebook in September 2011

Image via Wikipedia

Our privacy is no longer sacrosanct. It’s in jeopardy of being relinquished to the highest bidder, which in this case…are the deep pockets of the almighty advertisers. They want to know what we want…so they can sell us more of the same. A vicious cycle over which we’ve ultimate control. Or do we?

We seem willing pawns in the battle of the gods. All of this may seem far-fetched, and I may be the one who cried wolf once too often. My voice is lost amidst the din consuming the internet. I’m just Chicken Little running around shouting “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” And the resounding response? Silence. 

English: A chicken running Français : Un poule...

Image via Wikipedia

Even i have no idea what it is we should do…

Chicken Little (2005 film)
Image via Wikipedia

…tomorrow…i’ll think about it…tomorrow…

………hugmamma.